Tag Archives: UCLA Football

Got My Sports Shorts On!

Apologies for the delay since my last blog, but we finally started classes here at UCLA so my responsibilities have exponentially risen over the past few weeks! I feel like I am running 200 MPH all day, every day! SO… I’ll do my best to keep up with the real world throughout the school year. And by the way, my definition of the real world is the sports world. Here are my thoughts on what has been going on in the wide world of sports over the past couple of weeks:

RANGERS: Holy Texas Rangers, batman! As the only major league team who has never won a playoff series, The Rangers are making the most of their 2010 opportunity. After putting a 2-0 chokehold on the Tampa Bay Rays this afternoon they are well on their way to the next round of the playoffs, a place they have only heard stories about. Going up 2-0 on the impressive Rays while playing in Tampa and heading back to Texas for Game 3 and Game 4  is HUGE. Cliff Lee was incredibly dominant in Game 1 and CJ Wilson only allowed 2 hits through his 6 1/3 innings of work today. The defense was stellar featuring Josh Hamilton (per usual) and the Rangers loaded lineup stepped up to the plate and delivered including third baseman Michael Young getting his first post-season hit of his career, a three-run homer in the fifth to crack the game open for the Rangers. While watching the last few innings of the game from my trusty elliptical in our training room, I was laughing out loud watching Wilson and Hamilton clown around with each other in the dugout once the game was firmly in their grasp. Josh was making faces at the camera while CJ was lurking unknowingly behind him throwing up bunny ears and the infamous antlers. It was an awesome display of how much genuine fun these guys are having soaking up every second of what could potentially become the franchise’s most successful playoff run to date. Well, what am I saying? They have already won a playoff game, so they have already upstaged their Ranger predecessors. I just love watching professional athletes when it’s clear that they REALLY ENJOY PLAYING. It’s not about the money or the fame for these guys… It’s about the game, hanging out with each other, and winning games. How refreshing! Keep it going boys, lemme see your claws and antlers! 

COWBOYS: As outstanding as Dez Bryant has been on the field thus far, he finally got his pay back for his refusal to carry Roy William’s pads during pre-season training camp (See: “Dear Dez, You Have to Fit In Before You Can Stand Out”). During the bye week Bryant invited the offensive players out to dinner, on him of course, to (literally) pay his dues as the star rookie on the team. Much to Bryant’s surprise, not only did the offense show up…. so did the defense, on a special personal invite straight from Roy Williams. This was obviously the perfect opportunity for  the revenge that William’s spoke of a few months back. And he took full advantage of it. The ‘Boys ordered nearly every item on the menu at Pappa’s Steakhouse including numerous bottles of expensive bottles to go. Apparently the price for not carrying a veteran’s pads is, drumroll please… $55,000. AWESOME. Oh, and the Cowboys are 1-2. Meh.

BRUINS: I could definitely get used to this whole winning football games thing. The Bruins took care of business last weekend against the hapless, toothless Washington State Cougars winning 42-28 in front of the hometown crowd at the Rosebowl. It would have been easy to have a football hangover after the emotionall victory over Texas, but the Bruins scratched and clawed their way to a somewhat sloppy victory, which in my opinion probably wouldn’t have happened in previous years. Richard Brehaut got the start in place of Kevin Prince, who was experiencing some knee swelling following a hit during the Texas game, completing 12 of 23 passes for 128 passing yards and was poised under pressure scoring the go-ahead TD on a QB keeper in the 4th quarter. The lightning and thunder one-two punch of Jet Franklin (216 yards) and Derrick Coleman (185 yards) made their substantial contributions to the Bruins 437 rushing yards. I’m PRETTY sure we have found a solid identity in our running game, don’cha think? Kai Forbath made two field goals bringing his collegiate total completions to 80, just five behind John Lee who holds the school record with 85. A Bruin win, an SC loss, and a Stanford loss made reason for celebration on Saturday evening in Westwood! Hard work, positive attitudes, and guts are paying off. Let’s take it on the road to Cal this Saturday, Bruins baby!

RANDOM THOUGHTS:

  • The “Year of the Pitcher” has evidently carried over into October post-season fun. Timmy Lincecum gets 14 Ks tonight and Roy Halladay tossed the second no-hitter of MLB playoff history yesterday. What an animal. If not for one pitch, he would have had his second PERFECT GAME of the year. That’s just filthy. I’m not gonna lie… if it gets to the point where the Rangers are playing the Phillies… I’m gonna be a little nervous. And by a little nervous, I mean A LOT nervous. What a way come out for your first playoff start ever, congratulations Roy!
  • Randy Moss is on the move, people. Back to the Vikings he goes. A few weeks ago he made it clear that he felt unwanted/under-appreciated in New England. The Pats solved that problem real quick. I’m sure Grandpa Brett will be happy to have Moss in the Minny endzone since Sidney Rice is still out after hip surgery and poor Percy Harvin seems to still be suffering with his bouts of migraines. Come MNF we’ll see how Moss looks in purple… again.
  • The Texas Longhorns are suffering on the gridiron… and that’s an understatement. After losses to UCLA(!) and Oklahoma, UT has fallen out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in 9 years. It happens to the best of us, but it’s just so weird to have a Top 25 without the Longhorns in it. Interested to see how they rebound and if they can get it together after a bye this weekend.
  • Our head gymnastics coach, Valorie Kondos-Field, was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame this weekend. What an amazing accomplishment! Just wanted to give her a shout out of mad congratulations. We’re all so proud! Senior class with Miss Val:
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Longhorns Get Texas Two-Stepped: Bruin Style

Holy mother of football, the Bruins just MESSED with Texas. While basking in the glory of victory under the Texas sun on Saturday afternoon I was swiftly reminded (as I frequently am) how proud and thankful I am to be a Bruin. Who would have thought that UCLA would be involved in the biggest upset of the weekend, maybe of the season? It wasn’t quite as raucous as the infamous “Route 66” victory back in 1997, but trust me, it sure does feel like it. A 34-12 victory is just as satisfying. The Bruins sent the near silent crowd of almost 102,000 Longhorn fans home to lick their wounds Saturday night, and they did it in a BIG way handing the (formally) undefeated University of Texas Longhorns their first loss of the season. And you guessed it, this was UT’s worst home loss since, wait for it… wait for it… the last time the Bruins came to town. The Longhorn fans were certainly looking for long awaited revenge and I’m happy to say that the only glimmer they got of that was chit-chat before opening kickoff. Instead of trying to survive or simply trying to have a good outing against the 7th ranked Texas Longhorns, UCLA came in to Memorial Stadium on a mission, a “quest” as Coach Neu called it. Well boys, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The Bruins stomped the Longhorns and danced off the field towards the sea of Bruin fans (nearly 4,000!) in the corner of the stadium with their heads held high and smiles as big as Texas on their faces. Hello, America! The Bruins have arrived. Better late than never, right?

With their first road victory against a top ten team since 1998 (yes, you read that right), the Bruins crushed thenumber one rushing defense in the nation, gaining 264 yards. And when I say crushed, I mean crushed. Texas had given up an average of 44 rushing yards prior to this game… Jet Franklin had 118 yards rushing all by himself. Supporting RB Derrick Coleman tacked on 94 rushing yards, and Kevin Prince, the media coined “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (REAL original guys), tacked on a cool 50 yards including a 38-yard dash for a TD. The Bruins seem to be finding their identity with the run game featuring the pistol offense. I mean, KP only passed the ball 8 times for 27 yards and let the run game carry his team to a victory. At one point in the game Neu apparently looked up, saw that UCLA had 6 total passing yards, and thought to himself “Who am I?!” The defense was exceptional, as usual, forcing four first half turnovers that drastically changed the momentum of the game. Guys were flying all over the field making stellar tackles that seemed to stun the Longhorns. Kicker Kai Forbath drilled FGs from 39 and 49, ensuring that the special teams unit did their part for a Bruin victory. I honestly wish I could go through every single guy and talk about what they contributed to the victory, but I’m already rambling on and gushing enough. Shocker, I know. Needless to say, the boys in burnt orange and white were feeling “pistol-whipped” by the end of the day.

Texas looked like they were enduring an identity crises which, in a lot of ways they are. With the exit of their beloved Colt McCoy and his BFF receiver Jordan Shipley, the Longhorns are trying to figure out how to start a new chapter in the storied book of Longhorn history. From when they took the field for pre-game warm-ups in the blazing Texas heat to when they scuffled off the field after the game, the ‘Horns didn’t look energized, focused, or disciplined. “This one’s embarrassing for me. As a head coach, I’m responsible for everybody in this program, from the trainers to the managers to the walk-ons, to the kids to the coaches – everybody,” said Mack Brown following the game. The Bruins surely handed Mack and the Longhorns a strong reality check.

I was lucky enough to make the trip down to Austin, see my wonderful family, and witness for myself the competitive greatness exemplified by the Bruins on Saturday. Seeing our administration, staff, and guys come out of that tunnel last night smiling and cheering was such a fantastic feeling. The atmosphere was brimming with UCLA love and swelling confidence. Sweaty hugs were given (thanks for the sweat on my face David Allen), handshakes were exchanged, and photos were snapped to commemorate arguably the most prominent win for the Bruins in the last decade.

During my trip, not only was I reminded how proud I am to be a Bruin, but I was also ardently reminded of how proud I am to be a native Texan. The generosity, classiness, and genuine kindness of everyone in Austin were overwhelming. I’m telling you, I was blown away. While my family and I were walking to the stadium sticking out like sore thumbs in our Bruin blue gear, I did not hear one snide, cocky, or malicious comment. In fact, lots of people wished us luck and welcomed us to Austin and their illustrious stadium (not sarcastically). A few people asked us if we had Kleenex ready for after the game but said it with a grin, chuckle, and a fist bump. Upon arrival at the stadium, we were greeted with more smiles. I can count on one hand the number of ushers who didn’t smile, say hello, wish us luck, or welcome us. The Longhorn fans in the stands were complimentary of our school, our program, and our boys before they congratulated us and thanked us for coming. All of this after we completely dismantled their revered ‘Horns. One particular guy came up to us and said, “That was a real great butt whuppin.” Even as we were making the hike back to our car, the straggling UT fans saluted us with a steady stream of “good games” and “thanks for coming.” Good ‘ol Southern hospitality at its best. Thanks for having us, Austin! I hope we can treat you with the same hospitality when you journey out to LA LA Land. I am so happy I got to be there in person for this experience, what a memory!

With wins against Houston and Texas, the “turning-point” seems to have arrived and confidence is building in the Bruin lockerroom. UCLA has four games remaining against Top 25 teams; it is imperative that the Bruins take care of business with Washington State next weekend at the Rosebowl and continue to stay in the zone and tuned in with the intensity needed to win. Another week of practice ahead and our best is yet to come. The Bruins walked into Saturday’s game as boys and came out men. It was, and most certainly always is, a great day to be a Bruin. We hooked them ‘Horns ya’ll! WIN, LOSE, OR TIE, BRUIN ‘TIL THE DAY I DIE ❤

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Houston, Ya’ll Have A Problem

WOW! What a resounding turnaround for the boys in blue and gold. After a humiliating home opener loss against the Stanford Cardinal last weekend and a brutal week in the media, the 2010 Bruins came roaring back to life. The number 23 Houston Cougars took some serious hits during their 31-13 loss at the hands of the Bruins on Saturday night, including losing their first and second string quarterbacks for the season. Through the first two weeks of the season, teams, as well as the media, showed no mercy in beating up on the Bruins (as they should have). Luckily, that was put to an end… for at least a week.

This week it was UCLA who showed no mercy, especially the defense which, produced interceptions by Akeem Ayers and Rahim Moore. The Bruins’ tackling game came back to life lead by Patrick Larimore who racked up seven tackles, one of which forced a fumble. Houston’s starting quarterback, Case Keenum went down for the second straight week and this time it was for good. After UCLA linebacker Ayers picked off his pass near the goal line, Keenum attempted to stop the 77-yard return and ended up leaving the Rosebowl on a golf cart with a torn ACL. Keenum’s backup, Cotton Turner, left the game after suffering what is being reported as a broken collarbone. Um, oops… The injury to Keenum ended his Heisman Trophy campaign and the injury to Turner forced Houston to burn the redshirt of freshman Terrance Broadway. Not that I am happy people got hurt (obviously), but it’s nice to see our defense spark something, get physical and make a difference.

The 31 points put up on the board by the Bruins was mostly in part to Kevin Prince who passed for 99 yards and rushed for 60 including a TD and Johnathan Franklin who had a career performance, rushing for 158 yards and three touchdowns. A full week of training clearly helped KP knock some rust off and build confidence who should have another full week of practice before heading to Austin this next weekend to take on the Longhorns. The pistol offense seemed to be firing on more cylinders than in previous weeks leading to a gritty, hard earned victory in front of the Rosebowl faithful.

I’m not gonna lie, I was expecting a lethargic crowd… but I was wrong. Last night, the Rosebowl was a special place again. It was full of life, energy, and smiles. Eight-claps and BRUIN spell-outs were abundant and I heard the fight song more times than I can ever remember. The sidelines, as well as the fans, were energized and vocal throughout the whole game. (I don’t have a voice today due to cheering my lungs out from the first row the ENTIRE game.) I was down on the field before the game watching Neu throw rocket passes to his receivers (he’s still got it people!) and I could already feel it. There was just something in the air that made me feel the excitement and believe in the blue and gold. I actually tweeted a picture from the field with the caption”feeling it.” Watching the guys come together, look inspired, and bust out an exceptional performance against a tough Cougar team was a thing to behold. Leaving the Rosebowl a winner is definitely something I could get used to. It’s nice to wake up on a Sunday morning and not be suffering from a football hangover. Who knows what the future will bring, but for this week Westwood will relish in a much needed victory.

Now, it’s definitely time to keep things in perspective and stay extremely focused. Going into a wild atmosphere inAustin, Texas and with school starting for UCLA this Thursday, the mental discipline needs to be ratcheted up a notch. Of course, the team and the fans are juiced after bringing the 2010 season back from the dead but it is important to remember that this game was one of many. The intensity, fire, and motivation of last night needs to be brought to EVERY game. “All of us had a chip on the shoulder coming into this game,” said running back Johnathan Franklin (Jet Ski). That needs to be an eternal chip. We need to bring the aggression every game, and no matter what happens next weekend against the undefeated, top ten Longhorn team, there is still a season to play and games to win. Flashback to 1997: The Bruins lost their first two games to one conference and one non-conference team (as they did this year) and went on to rout Houston and Texas the following two weeks (look who is on the schedule for this weekend, and we just crushed Houston…) Oh, and by the way those two victories sparked a 20-game winning streak. Let’s hope for some deja vu, huh?

After practice on Friday, I am hopping on a plane to Austin to support my Bruins against the Longhorns! It’s my home state, how could I not go?! But don’t worry I will be ROCKING my blue and gold in that sea of burnt orange and screaming my lungs out… trust me, for a little person, I can be abnormally loud. My parents are driving up from Dallas to meet me there and I am super excited to see them as well! Be on the look out for a blog and pictures following that game. Go Bruins!

WIN, LOSE, OR TIE, I’M A BRUIN ‘TIL THE DAY I DIE.

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What in the Name of Bill Snyder Just Happened?!

The Bill Snyder obsessed city of Manhattan, KS (might as well be Bill Snyder, KS) was too much for the Bruins on opening weekend. Hopefully there are better days to come for the boys in blue and gold. The 31-22 loss on Saturday was a tough pill to swallow for coaches, players, and fans alike. Through the screaming sea of purple cladded Wildcats fans the Bruins showed both moments of brilliance and moments lacking focus. The premiere of the Bruins’ rendition of the pistol offense proved promising and protected quarterback Kevin Prince appropriately thanks to the performance of the offensive line. Having seven new starters on defense seemed to impact the Bruins on Saturday giving up 313 yards on the ground, 234 to potential Big 12 player of the year Daniel Thomas who also racked up 2 TDs. An improvement regarding tackling is obvious seeing as several integral tackles were missed. A bright spot for the defense was linebacker Patrick Larimore who had seven tackles, one of which was a sack for a loss. Linebacker As expected, Akeem Ayers also looked like a reliable go-to-guy on the defensive side of the ball, minus the late hit he administered which, gave the Wildcats 15 yards that led to an eventual touchdown. The other damaging penalty, an illegal participation on the Bruins in the first quarter, allowed Kansas State an extra shot at the endzone and it resulted in their first touchdown of the game. Offensively, the receivers will look to be a little bit more consistent next game which, to me, for these guys is more of a mental than a physical change that needs to be made. The receivers are strong, quick, and crazy athletic, their mental game just needs to be dialed in. Punter Jeff Locke, affectionately known as Jefe to his special team comrades, dropped a 60 yard bomb that pinned the Wildcats deep in their own territory and preceded a fumble recovery and touchdown for the Bruins in the second quarter. The ever reliable Kai Forbath went 3 for 3, connecting from 44, 42, and 35 yards after being questionable for the game due to a nagging groin injury. Forbath has now made 40 consecutive field goals inside the 50.

Clearly improvements need to be made for the Bruins to be consistent and successful, but an article that was written in the LA Times following the matchup with the Wildcats was excessively critical of… well, everything. Not only did the author bash on our mistakes throughout the game, but he was particularly critical of the way the Bruins carried themselves which, is something that all Bruins pride themselves on. The claim that the defense was sitting on the sidelines neglecting their offensive teammates on the field… ridiculous. The defense knew they were going back into the game so they were preparing for their next drive by getting play calls from their coach. The JUDGMENTAL observation made regarding how the Wildcats line up and run into the lockeroom together where the Bruins do not (which he thought was unprofessional and selfish) was unnecessary. Nothing against the Wildcats but I’m pretty sure the majority of NCAA teams do not run into the lockeroom like a line of kindergardeners. And really, you’re going to compare the Wildcats to the kids in “Remember the Titans?” REALLY?! I don’t know why this guy is such a Bruin hater, but I do not appreciate it. The first line read: “UCLA is embarrassing.” As someone who is painfully loyal and proud of her team, and her university in general, I took serious offense to that. “Or, is it always something with the Bruins, which really is the mark of a .500 program, only an excuse here or there from being something else?” Ummm… last time I checked nobody affiliated with the Bruins organization was making (or has ever made) excuses as to why we lost. Sure we have work to do, but it was unfair and irrational to be making these assumptions and claims after THE FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON! Calm down sir and bite your tongue or we’re going to have some serious problems.

The Bruins will spend this week preparing for their first conference game, the home opener against the highly touted Stanford University. The last two seasons the Bruins have had three weeks before jumping into battles against Pac-10 opponents giving them more time to work out early season kinks. This season they had one (rough) one. The concern for the Bruins is comparative fatigue due to the fact that Stanford easily steamrolled over their week one opponent Sacramento State 52-17, whereas the Bruins were involved in a dogfight where they kicked, screamed, and clawed their way to a tough loss. I’m going to take Rick Neuheisel’s advice and continue to be “relentlessly positive” about our team, deck myself out in blue and gold, show up early to the RoseBowl this coming Saturday, and scream my heart out for the Bruins! I believe, Bru!

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Pigskin Promise in Westwood?

The UCLA football team held their annual fall scrimmage at Drake Stadium yesterday evening in front of 5,500 fans who came out to support their beloved Bruins (myself included). Now, I may be a little bit biased… but I mean, you can’t blame me. I’ve spent a large part of my college career hanging around these guys, so obviously I want them to succeed, and us Bruins gotta stick together! But anyways, these Bruins gave me a glimmer of hope last night ya’ll! Following an improvement of advancing to the Eagle Bank Bowl last season, I personally, am hoping for even greater improvement during my last football season as a student-athlete! Monday morning treatments are a little better for everyone on a Monday morning following a win at the RoseBowl. The training room just seems a little bit brighter!

The offense seemed to be chugging away pretty solidly, even without starting quarterback Kevin Prince who has been suffering through some training camp nuisance injuries. Second stringer Richard Brehaut came in and tossed 11 completions out of 16 for 186 yards that included 3 touchdowns and one pick which made me feel more comfortable about our back-up QB spot. Besides getting visibly barked at by head coach Rick Neuheisel following an illegal formation, Brehaut seemed much more comfortable in the pocket last night than in his limited appearances last season to which he credited the other “11 guys out there doing their thing.” Returning starting receivers Taylor Embree and Nelson Rosario each roped in a touchdown pass, which is obviously promising. Finishing with 80 yards, Rosario had a spectacular one handed catch along the sideline that got the crowd fired up. The Bruins’ tri-headed competition for starting running back composed of Jonathan Franklin, Derrick Coleman, and true freshman Malcolm Jones heated up on Saturday night. It will be interesting to see who gets that starting job, but my money’s on Jet Franklin. He was extremely efficient last year until he seemed to unfortunately catch a case of the butterfingers, which is why he could often be seen carrying a football around campus during the off-season (as instructed by his teammates).

Star safety Rahim Moore was quiet on Saturday night but his comrades, Dalton Hilliard and Tony Dye, each had an interception during the scrimmage. With Moore, Hilliard, Dye, and linebacker Akeen Ayers on the Bruin sideline I am expecting a high number of interceptions this season, even without Alterraun Verner who is now playing for the Tennessee Titans (and starting tomorrow night, go Al!).

With 2009 Lou Groza place kicker award winner Kai Forbath at the healm, the Bruins’ special teams appeared on cue as usual and left no doubt that the Groza could very likely be making back-to-back trips to Westwood. After nursing a groin injury through a large portion of camp, (Kai, if you’re reading this I hate to say I told you so) Forbath drilled field goals from 37 and 42 yards after uncharacteristically missing from 39. Wait, he makes mistakes? Weird. Credit to his long snapper Christian Yount and holder Danny Rees as well who complete the field goal unit. Trust me, they would throw a fit if they weren’t mentioned as they are integral to Forbath’s success, yet often publicly under appreciated! Red shirt sophomore starting punter Jeff Locke was dropping bombs with his average sitting around 43 yards per punt while redshirt junior wide receiver Josh Smith showed promise returning punts with consistent speed and accuracy.

Unfortunately for the Bruins starting center Kai Maiava was taken off the field following the third play of the scrimmage and suffered an ankle fracture that will require surgery and most likely cause him to miss the entire season. Neuheisel, offensive line coach Bob Palcic, and fellow teammates were visibly upset with the loss of Maiava calling him both a physical and emotional leader on the field. After losing Maiava, the Bruins are currently without the five guys who started on the offensive line last season. Yikes, that is of some concern to me, but hopefully with left guard Ryan Taylor likely moving to center and Darius Savage filling in at the left guard position the O-Line will start to reconvene. Get well soon Kai!

On a lighter sidenote: Tobi Umodu, Glenn Love Jr., Christian Ramirez, and Tony Dye were all rocking almost Sisqo style bright gold hair Saturday night.

And on another sidenote: Again, I may be biased, but I think our blue and gold uniforms are the sharpest and classiest looking in the game. That’s just how we do things at UCLA: sharp and classy.

I’m really excited about this team, their talent, and their heart and I can’t wait to get out to the RoseBowl for the first home game… there is absolutely nothing better when you bleed blue and gold. Let’s go to work boys, I have my eyes on ya’ll!

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